Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Boy’s death ‘a hunting accident’ only by name

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers need to be with Conner Bartlett’s mom and dad.

Conner, 7, was killed Oct. 15 when his father placed a loaded hunting rifle into the rear of a vehicle. The gun discharged, and the bullet struck Conner. The youngster died before he could be helicoptered to a hospital.

Conner and his dad, Robert Bartlett, had been hunting before the shooting occurred. The Spokane Spokesman-Review got it right, labeling the unfortunate event a “shooting accident” rather than a “hunting accident.” Neither Conner nor Robert were hunting at the time the gun discharged; therein lies the distinction.

It was inevitable, though, that someone would seek to exploit the tragic accident. Sure enough, this blogger argued that the shooting proves that young children shouldn’t be allowed to hunt. Check out the comments that follow her post. A lot of folks saw through the fallacy in her argument.

True, the shooting occurred after a hunt. True, it involved a firearm used for hunting. But to say that the incident “proves children and hunting don’t mix” is absurd. Far more kids die while bicycling each year than while hunting. Should we say, then, that “children and bicycles don’t mix?”

No. Instead let’s view the incident for what it was — a tragic mistake on the part of Conner’s father, who should have unloaded the rifle before he put it into the vehicle.

I’m sure Robert Bartlett knows that. I cannot imagine the grief and guilt he’s dealing with.